OSB board vs plywood

July 26, 2016

OSB board and plywood are both hugely popular sheeting materials used in modern day property builds. Whether they’re being used in wall sheathing, flooring or roofs, they both have their own particular suitability and also their own downfalls. So which is best to use in your project?

OSB board

OSB board was introduced in the 70s as an alternative to plywood for load bearing building applications. It’s made up of layers of cross oriented strands of timber and bonded with a waterproof resin. Their unique formation allows them to withstand high levels of stress. They are more often than not covered by layers of plaster and paint to achieve a polished look.

Shop our range of OSB board.


Plywood has been around much longer the OSB board and was the favoured sheeting material until the cost savings of OSB became apparent. We stock an extensive range of plywood both online and in stores. Our range includes flexible, durable and hardwood plywood that are suitable for a variety of applications. All of our plywood is long lasting with varying levels of water resistance.

See our range of plywood.

Both OSB board and plywood are flexible and durable options for any project. They are ideal for property builds as sheet materials for walls, floors and roofs and are also great for use in smaller projects.

Cost differences

We currently stock two sizes of OSB board at Champion Timber, 2440 x 1220 x 11mm and 2440 x 1220 x 18mm. As a like for like alternative we have a general purpose plywood that is hardwood faced. With 12mm and 18mm comparable plywood options the costs are as follows:

Orientated strand board (11mm) from £17.28
Plywood (12mm) from £21.36

Orientated strand board (18mm) from £23.65
Plywood (18mm) from £27.97

For use as a sheet material


The OSB boards that we supply at Champion Timber are made up of 3 layers, cross orientated for maximum strength. They can be used externally if an appropriate preserver is used but are less durable than plywood when wet.

The composition of wood chips is one of the most substantial benefits of OSB board. The high levels of consistency are a result of the wood chips being bonded together under pressure in the manufacturing process. With OSB board you will never be faced with knots or voids in the boards, something that can occur in plywood.

OSB is a pliable material which can mean squeaky floors if it is used as a subfloor. Our OSB boards are rated for flooring use, meeting the standard for OSB/3 under BS EN 300: 2006 but it is important to leave expansion gaps to avoid squeaks. Another way to avoid squeaks is to glue the OSB boards to joist, this will prevent any movement.


Although plywood is less cost efficient it is arguably more effective than OSB in damp conditions. Plywood’s even layers of timber sheets mean that when faced with water it expands evening and shrinks back to size quickly and consistently. Whereas the formation of OSB board means that the edges expand unevenly and take a long time to.

Environmental factors

We use rigorous verification systems to monitor all our timber supplies. We have Environmental Chain of Custody Certification for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)® and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).

Our OSB board is made from a FSC mix 70% timber, meaning that it is composed of a minimum of 70% FSC certified wood/pulp and the balance is controlled wood or reclaimed material.

Our comparing plywood is certified as FSC 100%.

The majority of the time OSB boards are the cheaper option and for this reason are now favoured in most building applications. However, when it comes to DIY plywood still reigns supreme – most probably due to the natural wood appearance of ply.

Please get in touch today to find out more about all of our sheet materials. Alternatively, pop into one of our ten branches across the South East where our team of experts will be happy to advise you on the best product for your specific build.